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Greytown book home semifinal

Carterton will host Pioneer and Greytown have home advantage against Marist for the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup semifinals. CHRIS COGDALE reviews the final round of games before the playoffs.

Martinborough 12

Greytown 31

Greytown again showed what it takes to win at the business end of the season with a clinical 31-12 win over a disappointing Martinborough at Martinborough.

The visitors dominated the first half, scoring three tries and taking a 19-0 lead into halftime, effectively ending the home side’s semifinal aspirations.

The Greytown forward pack often had the home team eight going backwards at scrum time, while in the loose, there were plenty of powerful ball runners led by co-captain Tana Isaac at No.8 and prop Lewis Bush, who was always in the mix.

Halfback Sam Walton-Sexton opened the scoring with the first of his three tries after six minutes, but it took until the 25th minute to add to that when Isaac scored from a pushover scrum. A second Walton-Sexton try gave the visitors a deserved and comfortable lead at the break.

Whatever Martinborough coach James Bruce said at halftime worked because the ‘Green and Blacks’ came out a different team, and they were rewarded after 46 minutes with a try under the posts.

Despite their endeavours, however, Marty were guilty of too many errors, with Greytown fullback Gracyn Evans capitalising on one, running 50m to score and seal the bonus points.

Winger Nathan Hunt gave the home team some hope of snatching a late, losing bonus point, which would have got them into the semis, with a brilliant try from a quick tap, but Walton-Sexton had the last say, diving over for his hat-trick.

After stuttering through the early part of the season, Greytown have hit form since being thumped 51-19 by Marist in the second round of the championship, their only loss being a last-minute defeat to Pioneer.

The club have won five titles in the last 11 years, and Isaac believes that experience is starting to pay off.

“We’ve got a bit of momentum behind us now, and the young fellas in our team are just starting to mature, and there’s a lot of self-belief as well,” Isaac said.

“We’re lucky as a club, we’ve got a big squad, and our thirds [senior reserves] back us up, so the people who came on helped lift our team, and it’s awesome to have two strong teams in the club.”

One of the young players who stood out for Isaac was three-try hero Walton-Sexton, who he rates highly.

“He’s a real menace, he’s got a lot of talent, and he’s just got a really calm mindset about him, and he can just smell that gap and take it.”

Isaac is simply thrilled to have made the semis, let alone host one, after an ordinary start to this season and a disappointing campaign in 2022 when they finished in seventh.

“It means a lot. We just love playing at home.”

Eketahuna 5

Marist 10

Marist assistant coach Peter Beech was just pleased to come away from Eketahuna with a win against a pretty useful home side.

“It’s a bit of a banana skin game for us, but we got the win, and we’re in the semis, and we’ll take that every day of the week,” Beech said.

“It was a tight game, and Eketahuna came out firing and had a lot of ball in the first half.”

Despite the wealth of possession enjoyed by the home team, Marist scored the only points of the first spell through a try to flanker Rhemus Hullet, who barged over from a ruck about 4m out, and a conversion and penalty to Hayden Cooper.

Eketahuna scored midway through the second half, making for a nervy finish for the Marist supporters.

The game marked the end of another frustrating season for Eketahuna. Wairarapa-Bush’s northernmost premier club have now gone two seasons without winning a premier championship game, with their only victory in their last 20 games coming against East Coast in the first round of this year’s Lane Penn Trophy.

East Coast 7

Pioneer 19

Pioneer did enough to secure a semifinal with a scrappy 19-7 win over a determined East Coast at Whareama.

All of Pioneer’s points came from three tries in the first half for a 19-0 lead at the break. They could not, however, break down the stubborn home team defence for that crucial fourth try that would have sealed a semifinal spot, but in the end, it didn’t matter, with Martinborough failing to score a losing bonus point.

“We did enough, but a bit disappointed we didn’t get that fourth try,” Pioneer coach Victor Thompson said.

“We scored all our points in the first half, and then we lost our way a bit, but they [East Coast] turned up, and we defended our line quite a lot, which was pleasing, but we’ve still got a few things to tidy up for next week.”

Gladstone 0

Carterton 54

Carterton made no race of their local derby scoring 10 tries in a one-sided clash at Gladstone. Veteran Inia Katia was rewarded for another busy game, bagging a hat-trick, while fellow loosie Isireli Biumaiwai crossed for two tries. The score would have been much higher if Ben Brooking had his goal-kicking boots on, managing only two conversions.

PROVISIONAL POINTS

Carterton 33, Greytown 29, Marist 27, Pioneer 25, Martinborough 24, East Coast 13, Gladstone 8, Eketahuna 6

WHATABOUTU
SENIOR RESERVES

The results went with the seedings in the quarterfinals. Top qualifiers Tuhirangi dispatched Martinborough 55-10, Masterton Red Star locked in a home semifinal with a 38-12 defeat of East Coast, Pioneer held off Marist 36-29, and Greytown were 24-15 victors over Gladstone.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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